This was the devotional at our Staff Parish Committee Meeting last night, offered by one of our great layfolks.
An important word for all of us in the UMC, where ever we come down on the issue of “inclusion.”
The word is: “It’s not our tent.” (Underlining by me.)
“ The desire to learn what the faith is from those who have lived it in the face of being told they are not welcome or worthy is far more than “inclusion.” Actually, inclusion isn’t the right word at all, because it sounds like in our niceness and virtue we are allowing “them” to join “us”—like we are judging another group of people to be worthy of inclusion in a tent that we don’t own. I realized in that coffee shop that I need the equivalent of the Ethiopian eunuch to show me the faith. I continually need the stranger, the foreigner, the “other” to show me water in the desert….
Until I face the difficulty of that question and come up, as Philip did, with no good answer… until then, I can only look at the seemingly limited space under the tent and think either it’s my job to change people so they fit or it’s my job to extend the roof so that they fit. Either way, it’s misguided because it’s not my tent. It’s God’s tent. The wideness of the tent of the Lord is my concern only insofar as it points to the gracious nature of a loving God who became flesh and entered into our humanity. The wideness of the tent is my concern only insofar as it points to the great mercy and love of a God who welcomes us all as friends. ”
— Nadia Bolz-Weber from “Pastrix“
One thought on “It’s Not Our Tent”
I wish you folks could have heard our St. Stephen pastor, the Rev. Nancy DeStefano, talk last Sunday about encountering a tattooed, Goth-clad young woman on the street in Nashville at the last Festival of Homiletics. Nancy said the sight of the young woman made her uncomfortable, and she didn’t speak or smile, but became actively engaged with her cellphone. Imagine Nancy’s surprise the next morning when the same young woman she’d seen the night before turned out to be that day’s preacher … the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber!
Having met and corresponded with Nadia, who comes to Dallas periodically, I have to say that she’s someone whose words are eminently worth sharing.